Review: Breeze (Xbox Live)
Microsoft rolls out another free Xbox Live title, and asks you to blow a little flower around for 50 gamer points. It's not going to revolutionise gaming, but it is free. The question is this, is Breeze a worthy addition to the main Windows Phone gaming brand? I'm not so sure.
Version Reviewed: 18.104.22.168
In terms of free games on Xbox Live, I'll give Minesweeper a pass, because every Windows platform needs a copy of the explosive hunting game, but the other free titles in the Xbox Live collection have been more miss than hit. Breeze, developed by Nul City for Microsoft Game Studios, is an improvement on those that have come before it, but I still think there's space for a really good and impressive free Xbox Live title. Importantly though, Breeze is not an embarrassment.
You know what is most annoying? Because the game is played in landscape mode; and because of the insistence of having in-app adverts on all the free Xbox Live games, Breeze sacrifices almost 20% of the screen real estate to advertising, plus the spare space either side of the small banner - and I love that it's hidden in the screenshots by a banner that takes up the bottom of the screen. No matter what is there, it looks hideously out of proportion.
I'll not mention this again, but in a game that needs you to see as much of the level as possible, this is a poorly balanced bit of design.
Breeze has you guiding a very fragile flower around a garden maze. You need to reach the chequered flag gate at the end of the maze-like constructions, and you'll need to do this without touching anything solid in the maze of each level. If you do, the flower will disintegrate and you'll be back to the start again. And the gate doesn't start open - you'll need to collect little bursts of sunshine throughout your navigation to open up the gate.
It's a simple idea, put together well.
You have two choices of control method, both of which are based around blowing your flower in the right direction - at no point do you directly control the flower, just the wind around the flower.
The more traditional method, touching the screen, will blow from the point you touch the screen in a straight line towards the centre of the flower. I found this to be a little easier than using the tilt based controls, where your flower is blown along in the direction that you tilt the smartphone. It's very nice, but lacks the finesse and accuracy of the touch controls.
With sixty levels, there's a lot to do here, although I'll take my hat off to you if you manage all sixty levels in one sitting, Breeze can get very repetitive. You have two skill levels, an easy level which regenerates your flower where you die, and provides an "airbrake" that stops it moving under any circumstance, or the harder level, which removes these aids but still has you navigating the same levels.
Breeze isn't that hard, and I suspect many people will download it just to grab the 50g of achievement points on offer for free. As a standalone title, it lacks a decent level of addiction to keep you playing, and graphically there's nothing amazing that makes you want to play in the first place. It's certainly an improvement over the other free titles, but Xbox Live and Windows Phone are capable of so much more.
Reviewed by Ewan Spence at